The Life of Liz

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. ~Anne Frank

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Siren Song of the Whiteboard

On Teaching:

So I have started teaching English classes. I really never envisioned doing it as I have had zero training. But apparently I cannot resist the pull of the whiteboard and a fresh marker. Basically what happened is my brother-in-law, Jonothan, decided he really wanted to learn English. Eli obviously is also pretty interested in speaking English so the two partners in crime secured a whiteboard and asked a guy from church to help them out. I'm not exactly sure what happened but the guy wasn't able to make the first class and I was drafted as a replacement. I guess they had a good time because it's two and half weeks later and classes are ongoing and I am most definitely the teacher! 

It has been really great because Eli and Jonothan are good friends and encourage each other, while the air of competition helps keep them motivated. The challenge for me is that I'm trying to teach five things simultaneously: grammar, vocabulary, reading, writing, and listening comprehension. If you think that sounds difficult: it is. If you think that's impossible, well then you don't know my students. We've had about ten or so classes thus far and they have mastered over 75 common verbs and can make both statements and questions in the present, past, future, present progressive and present perfect tenses. Booyah baby!! 
They are really really good students. It amuses me that, as they have no frame of reference, they don't realize exactly how fast they are learning or how freakin' difficult this class is. I'm so proud *sniff*!

On English:

I'd like to dedicate at least one portion of every blog post to the following topic: Ways in Which English Goes Out of its Way to Screw You. My favorite example so far? The word brake. It's an irregular verb as the past tense is broke and the past participle is broken. Ok, whatever, there are lots of irregular verbs. But wait! When brake is used in the sense of stopping a car, all of a sudden it's a regular verb (example: he braked too soon and gave us all whiplash). Wha???? Thanks English, way to play fair! 

And don't even get me started on the lunacy that is English spelling. But actually do, because then I can post this hilarious clip from QI on the rule "I before E, except after C." I particularly like Alan Davies' version of the rule at the end. 


On Elections:

So the big presidential elections were last week. Everyone I know proudly displayed their inked up thumbs signifying that they had voted. The wildly popular president, Daniel Ortega, was re-elected with 63% of the vote despite the unconstitutionality of serving a third term. I asked one Sandanista supporter why he was running again when he'd already served the allotted two terms. The answer was well, the first term was 16 years ago. Um, I may not be some kind of logic whiz here, but SO? Did I miss that hole in time where anything that happened 16 years ago no longer counts as an occurrence? You will all be very proud of me that I just nodded gravely and did not laugh in their face.

As you might imagine, I'm not an avid supporter of the Frente Sandinista, yet somehow I found myself at their celebratory rally on Sunday night.  I had a pretty darn good time too. And in case you happen to run across the news reel footage of me dancing in the streets, perhaps I should explain. Don't worry, I have not suddenly become a socialist, it was more of a When in Rome kind of thing. Also, it's entirely possible that I had missed dinner and then imbibed more adult beverages than I am generally accustomed (or in laymen's terms, I was wicked blitzed). 

I had a point here, I'm sure of it. Oh yeah. Despite all the security concerns (a couple female volunteers were forced to return to the States by their families for the entire month of November), everything went fairly smoothly. I've never seen democracy in any non-American context, let alone in a country with a tumultuous political history like Nicaragua. But there was no rioting and no attempted coups. Also, there was water in my house all day long for 3 consecutive days. So I'm pretty happy to have been a small part of it all. 


Maeve's Momma November 9, 2011 at 7:04:00 PM MST  

See, this is where you're glad you took Spanish all those years, because you know more about grammar and parts of speech than most native speakers do. So do not count your education a waste!!!

And also, good job not laughing at the sandanistas, who would probably have taken it the wrong way.

Jo November 9, 2011 at 9:13:00 PM MST  

Yeah for water all day!!! for three whole days!!! Did you celebrate by doing laundry at noon??

John November 16, 2011 at 7:18:00 PM MST  

I rely heavily on FB to tell me when you've written a new post. So here's me catching up.

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A brand new mom trying to navigate the crazy world of mixed families, babies, and working full time. Phew! Just writing that makes me want to lie down.


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